It's with a heavy heart that I bring you an humiliating episode from Captain America's otherwise inspiring past. In this installment of Silver Age: The Lost Episodes, I'm actually jumping back to the earlier Golden Age of comics, back to Captain America Comics #2 (1941). Having just made his debut the previous month, Captain America and his young sidekick Bucky Barnes had already joined the ranks of high-profile Axis smashers. Whether at home or abroad, Cap and Bucky took the fight to the Nazis by any means possible....with an emphasis on the "any means possible".
In the issue's second story, titled "Trapped in the Nazi Stronghold" American war financier Henry Baldwin is kidnapped and taken to Europe by Nazi sympathizers...and Cap's on the case!
What does Cap have in mind for Mr. Baldwin's rescue?
To secretly intercept the band of fifth columnists traveling with Baldwin? To boldly storm the headquarters of their Nazi masters, scattering goosesteppers with his shield, wiley gymnastics and a good right hook?
Actually, in only his second issue, mind you, Cap resorts to dressing in drag to catch Nazi scum, while Bucky impersonates a sissy boy! The sacrifice! The humiliation! The high heels!
Can you image my horror as I came across this sequence in my Marvel Masterworks volume of Golden Age Captain America? In fact, the middle panel above may be the single most degrading panel in Cap's entire 65 year history. However painful, let's get back to the story.
Cap and Bucky fly to Europe as "Granny" and her "sweet child" (shudder), narrowly missing several chances to rescue Baldwin.
Take a moment to check out Jack Kirby's grim "Montage of Nazi Evil" surrounding the otherwise hilarious-looking Granny Cap and Sissy-Boy Bucky. Amongst all of the grim visuals, note the soldier wearing a pink uniform and a tiny saluting Nazi soldier shoving his hand into Hitler's nose!
As if Cap and Bucky walking hand in hand through Paris wasn't bad enough, get ready for Granny Cap crossing his legs while reading the paper...while smoking a pipe! Holy Gender Confusion, Batman!
Well, Bucky does reluctantly get back into that "darn sissy suit", and eventually nabs a spy posing as Henry Baldwin:
Immediately following Bucky's impressive take-down comes this peculiar, charmingly understated panel:
Imagine the missing panel showing Cap stripping off his Granny disguise in front of a flabbergasted crowd....not to mention how the Green Hat Guy's word balloon should have read:
To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but how you can cross-dress for your country!"